Today, a friend posted on Facebook a photo of herself in a wheelchair, her leg in a fresh plaster cast. She is one of three friends, in the last month, who has shared a picture with an arm or leg in a cast after slipping on icy city sidewalks.
Last week Councillor Sean Cleary noted Haligonians could have state of the art snow and ice removal, plus sanding or salting on metro streets for an extra $2 million per season. He said $2 million is on top of the $6 million we already spend, with limited results.
Since HRM already pays $6 million, the extra $2 million would cost each household about $13.30, figuring there are about 150,000 households in HRM.
Looking at it another way, with a population of 415,00 probably half are children or the elderly. If the other half (about 207,00) who are working age adults paid for the extra snow clearing, it would cost each of us an extra $9.80 per season.
No matter which way you look at it, the extra $2 million would cost each of us pennies a day.
In an earlier op-ed, I suggested that each visit to a hospital emergency ward costs the system a minimum of $200. And that $200 does not include compensating the patients who cannot work for weeks or longer and lack sick pay, or paying for needed physical or occupational therapy sessions, or paying for homecare if needed. A parent with a broken arm or leg can’t fix dinner, do laundry, grocery shop or take the children to school. A person on crutches or with an arm in a sling can’t easily drive a car or take transit.
When all these costs are factored in, it is clear the only solution is for us, as a community of taxpayers, to pay those extra pennies a day. Spending the extra $2 million should curtail the miseries of broken limbs, sprains and concussions due to falls on HRM’s sidewalks. Falls affect the young, old alike. My friend with the broken leg is 35 years old—who will walk her dog, prepare her meals and take her to and from the fracture clinic for follow up?
The forecast for winter 2020 is ice, snow and sleet. It’s time we seriously prepared for it.